Simple Tips for Painting Cabinets

3 Materials
1 Week

Our budget was small when we gave our hall bathroom a makeover. Thanks to the power of paint and a few simple DIYs, we completed our update for less than $200. Here are some simple tips to help you paint cabinets for an inexpensive makeover.

All Good DIY Projects Start with a BEFORE Picture!

The wood finish in this bathroom was a pinkish-orange so we decided to paint the cabinets.

First, Remove the Doors and Faux Drawer Fronts

Some sources recommended lightly sanding the cabinets beforehand. But I chose to use a good primer that didn’t require sanding. In fact, sanding stained wood is not recommended because it can allow the tannins to leach through the paint.

I used Zinsser Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 PLUS Primer. It’s a zero-VOC water-based primer which means it’s safe to use (non-carcinogenic) and easy to clean up. 

I primed the frames with two coats of primer since these cabinets get a lot of use. 

Hang Doors For Faster Painting and Drying

Use a pop up canopy to create a painting station outside. Thread wire hangers through the hole where the knobs attach to hang the doors. This allows you to spray both sides at the same time without extra drying time.

Since it's important to let paint cure and harden, hanging the doors like this means you can safely paint both sides without having to worry about the painted surface resting on anything while painting the other side.

You can use a brush to paint the doors, but spraying gives a really smooth finish, and it's much faster!

Paint the Frames and Doors

After the primer had completely dried, it was time for the paint. I decided to use Benjamin Moore’s Advance Interior Paint in a semi-gloss finish. The color is Kendall Charcoal.

This water-based alkyd paint is so cool! It dries to a hard, furniture-like finish, just like an oil-based paint does. But it's easy to clean up and is low-VOC since it’s water-based. Basically, it takes the best qualities of both types of paint and magically combines them!

I wanted to have a little bit of a shine in the space. Plus, I was a little skeptical that it a matte finish would be as wipeable.

We painted the doors outside with the sprayer, and painted the frames inside with a brush. This paint has great self-leveling qualities so even if you use a brush on your doors, you shouldn’t get visible brush strokes. You'll just need to be careful about curing time before painting the other side.


We let the doors cure for a week before re-installing them on the cabinets. You probably don’t need to let them cure that long, but we decided to err on the side of extra time to cure. I’m not a fan of having to do touch-ups! 

This project was extremely easy, but it did take a little time when factoring in the curing. We've lived with the painted cabinets for over two years now and they are holding up beautifully with no signs of wear. The bathroom is used heavily by three teenagers.

I would definitely recommend this paint and process if you're interested in painting your cabinets!

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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  • Yardlady
    on Aug 24, 2020

    That is fantastic!!! Thank you! I have alot of cabinets that are “well used” but in decent shape otherwise and did not want to replace due to overall cost... 👍

    • Simply2Moms
      on Aug 24, 2020

      I definitely recommend giving this a try! It was so easy and the Advanced paint is really fantastic to work with.

  • Diana M Sowada
    Diana M Sowada
    on Aug 26, 2020

    Your cabinets look like higher end or real wood. Mine are pressed wood on the sides, would this still work or would I have to sand them? I have never painted wood before.

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